This afternoon I went walking in circles in the park. There’s a lovely spot with a set of wide, even, stone steps. I haven’t counted them lately, but I think there are more than 50.
I jog up the steps, and along a path overlooking the park. Then I walk down the steep hill, and jog back up the steps. I was on my fourth go-round, on the path above the park, when something made me stop in my tracks.
I looked to my right, into the trees at my eye level. Right in front of me, no more than 2 feet away, was a huge bird of prey. A hawk, maybe.
I looked at it. It looked at me. We were face to face for just a second. Then I reached into my hoodie pocket for my phone. I moved so slowly, so as not to scare the bird away.
I took my phone out, and looked down at it. I turned it over and righted it with one hand. It took a few seconds. I pressed the camera button. At least I think it was the camera button. I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses. The camera didn’t open. So I pressed again.
I slowly lifted the phone higher, closer to bird’s eye level. And just as I was about to press the button… you guessed it… the bird flew away.
I had wasted the 20 or so seconds I could have spent face to face with a giant bird fumbling with my phone. The bird, and the moment of communion were both gone.
How often have I missed out on a deep and meaningful experience because I’ve been mucking around with something else? Something less important? Something frivolous? Something unnecessary?
How many opportunities have I had to learn this lesson? Be present. Be still. Be engaged. Appreciate the magnitude of the each moment. The significance of each second.
I thank the bird for the lesson today. Maybe next time, I said, as I circled around again. Maybe next time.